The Leaps of Development

This is another idea in the Marxist ideological arsenal. According to the dialecticians, gradual quantitative changes reach a point when the accumulated change produces a sudden qualitative change. Hence development is not a circular movement but a linear progression from one qualitative stage to a new one. Moreover, they assert that this is a general law of nature. One of the examples offered is that of some substances, like water, which pass from solid to liquid state and from liquid to gaseous state at specific temperatures.

Al-Sadr points out that although instantaneous leaps do occur in a number of natural phenomena, they are by no means general and do not hold true in the case of all phenomena (e.g. biological organisms, language, etc.). In the example of water, experimentation does not demonstrate that heating is a result of contradiction, nor there is any dialectical development involved. Secondly, neither the heating up of water nor its passage from one state to another is a linear, irreversible progression.

Thirdly, the leap from solid to liquid state or from liquid to vapour state does not take place suddenly for the complete mass of water heated. Why should, then, the leap in the social sphere be imposed on society as a whole? Finally, al-Sadr points out, the change of state of water is as much a matter of quantitative change from the viewpoint of science as the change in temperature. Here al-Sadr seems to refer vaguely to the kinetic theory of heat, according to which the changes of state are quantitatively related to the speed of molecular movement and the force of molecular cohesion.

Al-Sadr goes on to criticize Marx's view of transformation of Surplus value into capital as an instance of accumulated quantitative change passing into qualitative change. Although he is right in pointing out that money does not undergo any qualitative change by passing into capital, his insistence that the change involved is merely verbal amounts to ignoring a significant economic fact pointed out by Marx.